cyprus-meet-in-cyprus-interview

Cyprus is safe and open for business

On 14 & 15 April, the first-ever virtual MICE exhibition featuring Cyprus will be taking place – Meet in Cyprus 2021. Over two days, the event will bring together travel and event industry professionals with hotels, DMC’s, PCO’s and other key suppliers through individual meetings, workshops, talks, discussions, activities, one-to-one video meetings and a full agenda of digital events.

Meet in Cyprus is the brainchild of Mrs Klea Symeou, Secretary of the Board of CIMA and owner of Sassy DMC; and is being coordinated also by CIMA President and Vice President, Mr Orestis Aristides of Drakos DMC and Mr Alexis Onoufriou of Liberty.


Kongres Magazine talked to Klea Symeou, Orestis Aristides and Alexis Onoufriou to find out more about the virtual event, what challenges the organisers face, how they plan to attract attendees and what their best incentive idea in Cyprus is.

INTERVIEW WITH THE ORGANISERS OF MEET IN CYPRUS 2021

Q: You are a member of the organising committee of Meet in Cyprus 2021. How did CIMA decide to organise the event, and how will it take place?

Klea Symeou, CIMA Board Secretary and Director at Sassy Events International

At the beginning of the Covid crisis, CIMA actively embraced the concept of virtual and hybrid events. It was clear that there was substantial interest within the market, and we were keen not only to make the “new normal” work for Cyprus as a destination but to embrace new technologies and show that are innovative and flexible.

The Deputy Minister for Tourism is particularly keen to establish Cyprus as a technologically innovative destination and during a meeting of the Cyprus Convention Bureau gave the go-ahead to create a virtual event. We approached our trusted technical partners, and they created a purpose-built event platform. The platform is designed to replicate as far as possible a live exhibition with an emphasis on interactive experiences

Q: Who will the participants get to meet?

Orestis Aristides, CIMA President and Director at Drakos DMC

Putting together the exhibitor list for Meet in Cyprus, we wanted to get together the best Hotels and DMCs on the island, all under one “digital” roof. Cyprus has a great selection of properties that are ideal for meetings and incentive travel, as well as many dynamic and professional DMCs that can support any operation, large or small.

Amongst others here are some of the exhibitors at the show: Almyra Hotel, Parklane Resort & Spa Limassol, Aliathon Resort, Mediterranean Hotel, Honeywell Events, Four Seasons Cyprus, St Raphael Resort & Marina, Apollonia Beach Hotel, Knossos Travel, Orthodoxou Travel, Cyprus Convention Bureau, Amathus Beach Hotel, Radisson Hotels Cyprus, Annabelle Hotel, Anassa Resort, Coral Beach Hotel & Resort, Elysium Hotel, Adams Beach Hotel, Amara Hotel, Amathus Travel, Louis Ivi Mare, Drakos DMC, Sassy Events International.

meet-in-cyprus-mice-exhibition-virtual
Photo: meetincyprus.com

Q3: What surprises await participants at the event?

Alexis Onoufriou, CIMA Vice-President and Director at Liberty Cyprus

Apart from the various virtual tours and activities that will be presented during the expo, visitors will have the opportunity to watch live panel discussions with tourism professionals but more importantly get informed about the new funding schemes from Cyprus Conventions Bureau related to MICE and how their agency could benefit financially out of these schemes.

Q: What are some of the key advantages of organising events in Cyprus?

Klea Symeou, CIMA Board Secretary and Director at Sassy Events International

Cyprus is a well-established destination for meetings and events, and we have a number of advantages. Obviously, our beautiful sunny weather is key giving a much longer “season” than other European destinations.

We have a very well-developed infrastructure with state-of-the-art conference facilities, high-quality hotels, modern airports and excellent access. There are very good flight connections from both European and Middle Eastern hubs and whilst we are a European destination, we also offer a really Mediterranean experience. Cyprus has handled the Covid crisis well with significant investment in ensuring the safety of our visitors and the early creation of protocols.

One of Cyprus’ unique selling points is that our wonderfully preserved archaeological sites can be used for meetings and events. This offers our guests a really unforgettable setting at the heart of our historic venues.

Q: What is the current situation regarding the organization of live events? Are events allowed, and under what restrictions?

Alexis Onoufriou, CIMA Vice-President and Director at Liberty Cyprus

Currently, live events are allowed based on certain guidelines. The fact that the maximum participation number is based on the area of the venue and is not limited to a specific number is a very promising indicator for live and hybrid events.

Additionally, the Ministry of Health as well as the Deputy Ministry of Tourism have set strict health and prevention related protocols that need to be followed by event organizers, hotels, venues and other related vendors. With the assistance of one of the local agencies, events can be planned and executed in a way that not only meets the set requirements but more importantly for the safety of the participants.

drakos-dmc-events
Photo: Drakos DMC

Q: What do you see as crucial marketing elements to lure meeting planners after the Corona crisis?

Klea Symeou, CIMA Board Secretary and Director at Sassy Events International

The Meet in Cyprus virtual event is the first in what we hope will be a series of virtual, hybrid and then live events to let people know that Cyprus is still here, we are a safe destination and we are ready to welcome back groups. Although we know that people can’t wait to travel and are craving live events, we have learned a lot in the last year and will certainly be using online technology as a key element going forward.

Our clients are already contacting us for Fam Trips this year and this will be a crucial tool to show event planners what is new and what we have put in place to make our destination as safe as possible. The events of the last year have also changed people’s perception of what is important and as a destination, we will certainly be focussing on sustainability whether that be in terms of environmental responsibility or continuing our efforts to preserve our culture and traditions. Of course, suppliers are prepared to be even more flexible in terms of what they offer and, we all want to be as competitive as possible. Also really important is the subsidy scheme that the Cyprus Convention Bureau has created to encourage and support conference and incentive groups.

Q: What are some of the issues that challenge DMC’s and your Industry right now?

Orestis Aristides, CIMA President and Director at Drakos DMC.

Cyprus as an island is only connected by air to the rest of the world. While this has protected it during the pandemic, the orderly recovery of the travel is essential for live meetings and incentives to resume. To this end, communication between the government, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Transport, the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, the Hotels, Travel Agents and DMCs associations has been vital to find solutions that both open up the country, while keeping travellers safe. Since March, Cyprus’ borders to European countries (and some beyond) are open without restrictions, with negative testing or vaccination. Hopefully, by mid-summer, the vaccination program will allow for more free movement.

Looking ahead, after travel links have been recovered, it is all about showcasing Cyprus to the world. The changes to our industry globally have been so great, that we will effectively have to re-create the Cyprus brand and re-educate our partners abroad of the advantages that Cyprus offers. The destinations that put their efforts into this will reap the rewards of the recovery faster. That was one of the driving forces behind CIMA’s efforts with Meet in Cyprus.

We need to spread the word to the world: Beyond the great weather, beaches, food, history and great hotels; Cyprus is safe and open for business.

cyprus-beach-sea
Photo: Getty Images

2021 will be a testing year for travel & events

Q: Where would you like to see Cyprus in two years?

Orestis Aristides, CIMA President and Director at Drakos DMC

There is definitely a lot of work to be done before we can speak about 2023. I think 2021 will be a testing year for travel & events. New protocols will come into place, and we will relearn to travel and meet. Of course, the human need to explore and interact will come back stronger and I think in 2022 we will be back in levels of 2019.

In terms of Cyprus as a destination, from 2023 onwards we need to re-evaluate the model of operation. Cyprus has such great untapped potential for meetings, incentive travel and events, as well as the potential to be a truly year-round destination for special interest travel. That is the direction we need to take.

Q: Your best incentive idea in Cyprus?

Klea Symeou, CIMA Board Secretary and Director at Sassy Events International

In general, we are committed to making the most out of our natural assets by which we mean offering our guests a truly authentic experience. Our most popular activities are those when our guests get to interact with local people and immerse themselves in our culture and tradition. For example; an intimate cooking master class at the home of a local chef, a wine tasting experience led by the winegrowers themselves, a boat trip with local fishermen. Our most unusual idea though was for a gala dinner event on the sea, with the evening’s events taking place on a series of platforms built on the water. Although this event had to be delayed due to Covid we can’t wait to create this incredible experience later this year

pottery-cyprus-meet-in-cyprus-mice-culinary
Photo: www.liberty-int.com

Orestis Aristides, CIMA President and Director at Drakos DMC

Cyprus, being small geographically but large experientially, means that the incentive traveller can explore much in just a day. One of my favourite one-day incentives are definitely the Land Rover expeditions we do to the heart of Cyprus, the rural and mountainous countryside. Starting off from the coastal towns of Limassol or Paphos, we first visit the ancient temple of Kourion and marvel at its magnificent Roman theatre overlooking the Mediterranean.

We then head northwards in country lanes amid acres of vineyards where we continue off-road and lose ourselves in the rugged wilderness of the Paphos forest. Here we can go on a light trekking tour along mountain streams and medieval bridges amid the pine forest. We then visit some of the best wineries of the island as we descend into the island’s wine region. We end the journey at one of Cyprus most renowned villages, with its famous monastery of the holy cross. Here we can go on an array of activities to explore the local culture, from dancing lessons to arts and crafts, a cooking workshop, a sweet dessert workshop and of course topping it all up with a grand village feast in the central square!

land-rover-expedition-cyprus
Photo: Drakos DMC

Alexis Onoufriou, CIMA Vice-President and Director at Liberty Cyprus

Exploring rural Cyprus while travelling back in time with classic cars driving tour is one of my personal favourite incentive ideas. Access to rural roads is easy from most of the cities while the experience of cruising with classic cars always brings excitement and an element of surprise to the guests.

The tour passes by landmark archaeological sites, breathtaking locations with panoramic views while stops include seasonal fruit picking and tasting, halloumi cheese and bread making workshops while the experience concludes with a picnic-style lunch, prepared by locals, at one of the many gape yards of a traditional wine village in Cyprus.

cyprus-town
Photo: Getty Images

REGISTER FOR THE EVENT AND REDISCOVER CYPRUS

Visitor registration is already open at meetincyprus.com. Access to the expo is free for buyers and visitors.

Rediscover the beautiful destination through purpose-built exhibition space and find out what’s new since you last visited.

Sign up for one-to-one video meetings with hotels, DMCs, conference organisers and other suppliers. Listen to live or pre-recorded keynote speakers, take part in discussions and interactive workshops, join virtual activities and enjoy the daily entertainment programme.

For more information on the exhibitors and programme, get in touch with the Meet in Cyprus organising team.

CIMA (Cyprus Incentives & Meetings Associates)
E: meet@cimacyprus.com
T: +357 25 101010
W: cimacyprus.com

About CIMA

Cyprus Incentives & Meetings Associates (CIMA) was formed in 1997 to represent the stakeholders to the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) industry in Cyprus. While the founding members were DMCs, today the association represents DMCs, PCOs, Hotels, Venues, AV, transport companies and ancillary partners to the industry in Cyprus.

CIMA has a permanent seat at the Cyprus Convention Bureau’s advisory committee, under the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, with the aim to promote MICE on the island.